The optimal management of unstable thoracolumbar fractures remains unclear. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the results of using an expandable prosthetic vertebral body cage (EPVBC) in the management of unstable thoracolumbar fractures.
Eighty-five patients with unstable T7–L4 thoracolumbar fractures underwent implantation of an EPVBC via an anterior approach combined with posterior fixation. Long-term functional outcomes, including visual analog scale and Oswestry disability index scores, were evaluated.
In a mean follow-up period of 16 months, anterior fixation led to a significant increase in vertebral body height, with an average gain of 19%. However, the vertebral regional kyphosis angle was not significantly increased by anterior fixation alone. No significant difference was found between early postoperative, 3-month, and 1-year postoperative regional kyphosis angle and vertebral body height. Postoperative impaction of the prosthetic cage in adjacent endplates was observed in 35% of the cases, without worsening at last follow-up. Complete fusion was observed at 1 year postoperatively and no cases of infections or revisions were observed in relation to the anterior approach.
The use of EPVBCs for unstable thoracolumbar fractures is safe and effective in providing long-term vertebral body height restoration and kyphosis correction, with a moderate surgical and sepsis risk. Anterior cage implantation is an alternative to iliac bone graft fusion and is a viable option in association with a posterior approach, in a single operation without additional risks.